Chris Holtmann, who only two days ago was tweeting about how eager he was to coach Butler’s team this year, will succeed Thad Matta and take over the Ohio State men’s basketball program, the school announced today.
Holtmann signed an eight-year deal, according to the Indy Star’s David Woods, reportedly worth $3.1 million per season. He will immediately be tasked with filling out the Buckeyes’ roster before the 2017 season kicks off—they currently sport just nine scholarship players and have no incoming top-50 recruits or transfers. Matta and his staff struggled so mightily this past recruiting season that it was supposedly the lack of incoming talent, not his health issues, that inspired Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith to axe the long-time head coach.
Holtmann, 45, secured his first head coaching job at Gardner-Webb in 2010, going on to earn Big South coach of the year honors in 2013, the same year he left for an assistant coaching job at Butler. He was named head coach of the Bulldogs within a season; in 2017, he was named Big East coach of the year. Under Holtmann, the Bulldogs went 70-31 in three years, registering three straight trips to the NCAA tournament, including this past season, when they went 25-9, secured a No. 4 seed, and made a Sweet 16 appearance. Ohio State, meanwhile, is in the midst of a two-year NCAA tournament drought, having gone 38-29 the last two seasons.
Holtmann was not the first choice for the Buckeyes—they reportedly went after Creighton’s Greg McDermott, who turned them down—but the young head coach’s track record, while not indicative of imminent success at a struggling Big Ten program, is impressive.